Letter 2 America for January 2, 2021

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Dear America,

2020 is finally over and we can hope that the pandemic is not far behind it.  But more importantly, we're just about three weeks away from the end of another plague, the Trump presidency.  Unfortunately, Trump is still intent on inflicting himself upon a damaged nation with his lunacy about having won the election of the last year, "by a landslide" he says, despite the fact that there isn't one iota of evidence to support his bizarre, self-serving fantasy.  Regrettably, our nation may never be the same after his tenure ends.

I am keenly aware of how lucky we all are to live in America.  The freedoms and prosperity we enjoy are unmatched anywhere else in the world, and because those freedoms in particular are encoded in a single, seminal document that defines our nation, we can feel secure in what we enjoy as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...at least I thought so until the last four years.  Now, my thoughts continually revert to my woe over the fact that, if the behavior and ideas that Trump has illuminated with his incitements of the baser instincts and thoughts of so many of our countrymen are the true nature of American freedom, I do not live in the country that I always thought I did.  The shibboleth "American exceptionalism"  was apparently coined by Joseph Stalin as a criticism of a movement in this country comprising American communists who believed that American communism was an exception in many respects to the paradigms posited by Marx and the communist doctrine of the late twenties.  That people like Newt Gingrich would adopt the same identifying designation, eschewing only the references to communism, is indeed ironic.  And their ipsi dixit pontifications on what they claim to be the objective virtue of the American ethos are the verbal embodiment of the flag in which they wrap themselves so as to avoid any prospect of contradiction or criticism.  That's the way flag waving works; you can't protest without subjecting yourself to being labeled unpatriotic because those who arrogate the flag to their own use and purposes presume to define themselves, and there are enough of them--and they are sufficiently indefatigable in their sanctimony--that one who wishes to inject reason into any conversation allowing for criticism of American philosophy or political demagoguery is open to castigation by them.  That's the way American exceptionalism works.  No matter what conduct would merit condemnation of another nation is by definition proper when we do it.

And so, in an era when the breath of the person standing next to an American might be lethal, it is unacceptable to any of those exceptional Americans to demand of them that they wear facemasks as science has determined we should.  Those exceptional Americans think that it is their right to risk not just their own health, but yours and mine as well.  Their Americanism isn't loyalty to their fellows; it is loyalty to a flag that becomes a mere piece of cloth denoting nothing more than their impious beliefs about national loyalty.  It is the arrogance required to dispense with the real "American Way."  Their concept of exceptionalism is not just the stupidity to ignore science and knowledge at risk to themselves, which they equate with freedom.  It is the prerogative of exposing their fellow Americans to their folly, and to do it proudly.  That's really the core of the problem: pride is a sin unless you are an American.  Here, the God we as a nation supposedly respect above all else has noting to say about it, even though pride has been the first and worst of the sins since long before the common era, which brings me to my point.

In some sense, I always believed in American exceptionalism.  That is, I thought we were a nation of good, compassionate, mostly prudent and mutually considerate people, and that we were an apotheosis of those virtues...perhaps not the only one, but certainly one of the virtuous nations on earth.  But Trump gave a contingent of Americans permission to show the world that such is not the case, at least not  universally.   It certainly is the case that the majority of our people believe in our creed and each other: at least the 80+ million who voted against Trump do.  But the flagrant disregard for their fellow Americans of all those who voted for Trump...their willingness to disavow the obvious truth when it conflicts with their baser beliefs, instincts and unquestioned biases...demonstrates that American exceptionalism, at least what I believed it to be, is not something that the rest of the world should count on.  I can only describe what I feel in this regard as despair, and frankly, shame.

So now we have Joe Biden to lead us.  I am hopeful, at least from the perspective that we no longer have a nihilistic miscreant leading us, though we will have to see what Biden's fiber is over time.  In the interim, I'm glad that the last four years are behind us, so happy new year, America.  Here's to us; the real us.

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on January 2, 2021 3:13 PM.

Letter 2 America for December 24, 2020 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for January 6, 2021 is the next entry in this blog.

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